In a surprise move, Apple Inc. has revealed plans to make it harder for people trying to crack the iPhone to successfully do so. In what could be perceived as a blow to law enforcement attempts to gather sensitive data from these devices during investigations, the company has highlighted the fact that this change will protect iPhone users in countries where there are less stringent legal restrictions than there are in the US for law enforcement officials to try and access devices without user permission.
The primary change in iPhone settings will revolve around the cutting off data access or transfer via the USB port of devices that have not been unlocked within the hour. This means that unless the registered phone user has unlocked the device, the device will proceed to interrupt any attempts at data being accessed through the USB port. Such a move is perceived to forensic companies that have developed machines that will enable law enforcement to bypass the existing security features of iPhones, and to gain entry to the data stored therein. The rise of such forensic companies, such as Cellbrite and Grayshift is the result of Apple walking a guarded line between enabling user-independent access to law enforcement in the past. This latest announcement from the company will possibly generate other workarounds that ma be adopted by third-party vendors of like services, setting up a cycle of future changes to the security features on offer.
The company made a statement citing the necessity of this change as being born of the fact that both law enforcement and identity thieves end up utilizing the same means to access a user’s data, with the techniques for doing so being published on the internet for all to see.